fugging it up

The Fug Girls Dissect Natalie Portman’s Red-Carpet Style

Six years ago Natalie Portman got an Oscar nomination for Closer, and now she’ll surely be back on the circuit, considering the awards buzz she’s getting for Black Swan. Will an upgrade from the Supporting Actress to Lead Actress category mean a reexamination of her sense of red-carpet style? Join us as we take a look at what this fashion darling has worn over the past year and see if we can draw any hasty conclusions about what she might do come trophy time in 2011 … other than cry and thank everyone to whom she’s ever paid a commission.

Portman was still shooting Black Swan at this time, and, as if dancing is still on her mind, her Rodarte for Target dress itself is a tad balletic. We like the tailored jacket over it, but overall it’s reminiscent of a dance about a spring fairy forced to attend the dead-of-winter funeral for Mother Nature’s great-aunt.
If this is Portman’s idea of Oscar-wear, then should she get nominated for Black Swan, girlfriend is going to have to step it up. This drab look, worn at last year’s Vanity Fair bash, is weak sauce even for a partygoer, much less a potential Best Actress. We’ve seen more glamour in the ten-bucks-or-less bin at Old Navy.
This dress encapsulates Natalie’s affection for oddball draping and asymmetry. On the runway, the Lanvin felt more airy and lively, but here it has wilted into what looks like a hastily wrapped postapocalyptic Valentine’s Day gift: Like, you love that person and all, but just don’t have time to tuck in the tissue paper all nicely because there are roaches in your fridge and zombies in your organs and no bottled water to be found, so listen, dude, you’ll GET what you GET, okay?
Natalie chose this Dior in the period between the movie shoot and the later Black Swan promotional gigs, and it certainly bespeaks someone who is relishing her freedom from the film’s twisted, mind-churning world. It’s cheery, sunny, and light — almost like something you’d wear to teach Sunday school, as if Natalie’s hoping an airy vibe will offset the whole Erotic Ballet Horror Thriller thing. Makes sense: There’s not much erotic ballet in the Bible.
Obviously, Portman gravitates to cocktail-length dresses, and with good reason: She’s so petite, anything longer risks absorbing her entirely. Her Miu Miu here is a great example of one done right: It’s flattering, it fits, and it shows enough leg that she looks long and lean; you barely remember she’s actually pocket-size. It’s the first ensemble that’s made us go, “Yeah, we’d watch that girl dance for two hours.”
Finally, a floor-length gown to evaluate, since long is likely the dress code come awards season. We love the pop of red on Natalie — she wears color well — and the slit does help prevent her tiny frame from being lost in yards of fabric. But as a whole, this Rodarte feels vaguely old and dated, reminiscent of something sported by one of the aging-but-well-preserved guest stars on a rerun of The Love Boat.
Another short frock, albeit a more casual one. This Jason Wu day dress is refreshingly reflective of the Portman that we often see on chat shows and in SNL skits: charming, relaxed, and gamine — as opposed to how reserved and stern she can sometimes appear on the red carpet. Natalie would be well served to look this approachably chic more often (at least, when occasion allows), because it makes us want to hang out with her and listen to her sales pitch for vegan shoes.
In addition to hemlines showcasing her knees, Natalie apparently also cherishes strapless bodices and ethereal skirts. This — another Jason Wu — is truly pretty on her, and even though it may be too cutely evocative of a black swan/white swan hybrid, it’s easily our favorite of the looks she’s worn in the run-up to awards season. According to our crystal ball, chances are good this is a style she’ll copy (in floor-length) at least once in early 2011. Of course, be aware our crystal ball is actually just a bowl filled with Crystal Light.
Love or hate Natalie’s cocktail dresses, they always give us something to talk about — except for this one, which just has us concerned that she hit her head in the Gap dressing room and wandered over without her pants.
Next to her dramatic visage on the poster, Natalie herself (in Rodarte) looks like the gust of thickly perfumed air you inhale when you open the door of a florist. You could as easily imagine this dress on Selena Gomez or Dakota Fanning (or any other starlet not yet old enough to legally sample Jägermeister), but Natalie wears it with admirable self-assurance — and we assume was rewarded by overhearing at least once, “I can’t believe that was HER in the movie. She looks 12! Oscars for everyone!”
The accidental theme of this slideshow is, “Wu, Rodarte, Dior, Lanvin,” with the latter being the choice here that shifts Portman into high gear. We’re torn: The shoes are too matchy-matchy for anyone who’s not a bridesmaid, and something appears to be growing on her shoulder — yet, undeniably, this is a proper, major gown. And it can’t be a coincidence that Natalie whipped it out for an event hosted by the Oscar folks. We see her going this less-princessy route again at the slightly less Über-formal SAG Awards.
Again with the Disney Channel fashion: This printed dress is adorable, yes, but is it too cutesy for a potential Best Actress? These are questions that will keep Natalie’s stylist up all night for the next four months. Invest in coffee and Red Bull now.
Apparently Natalie is one of FINCA’s ambassadors of hope; in this Dior, it seems more like the hope she’s ambassadoring is that somebody will order her from the Gentle Brides by Mail catalogue. Still, she’s consistent, continuing to nail the prim, ladylike reserve we’ve come to expect from her one out of every two times she leaves the house — and we’d be lying if we said we wouldn’t try on that dress if it appeared on our doorstep. Although first we’d ask the heavens if they could find it in an actual color.
Here, Portman is supporting Lanvin for H&M. We love it when celebs sport more reasonably priced options; we just wish we liked this option better. A little asymmetry and some ruffles can work, but paired with the grim black fabric, it all but swallows her whole. Natalie’s heavy pumps only drag it down further; for a girl playing a ballerina who’s light on her feet, this pushes really far in the other direction — the “grand jete straight into the orchestra pit” direction.
If we may be blunt: depressing. And droopy. And weirdly unflattering, as if she’s trying to stir up a pregnancy rumor in case reviews turn out to be not-so-hot. To quote the esteemed Tim Gunn, we’re concerned. Now is the time for Natalie to amp up the glamour, not tamp it down. It’s nearly awards season; the Fashion Police have their stun guns locked and loaded. Better get ready to bring it, sister.
The Fug Girls Dissect Natalie Portman’s Red-Carpet Style